Dog constipation is a common problem, and it refers to the inability to pass normal stool regularly. Typically, a dog should pass stools at least once, or twice a day. Sometimes the problem can be quickly fixed, but chronic constipation requires an expert’s intervention. To understand more about the condition, read on.
What Is Dog Constipation?
Dog constipation is the inability to pass stool effortlessly. As mentioned earlier, dogs should poop at regular intervals of 24 hours. If a dog goes more than three days without passing stool, it is considered constipation. Constipation can lead to other problems like:
• Bloated stomach
• Poor feeding
• Obstipation and megacolon
What Causes Constipation in Dogs?
The leading cause of constipation in dogs is a low fluid intake, insufficient exercise, and poor diet. Other causes include certain medications like sedatives, anti-diarrheal medicine, and anal gland problems. Chronic health conditions like arthritis or bowel disorders if not addressed in time can also lead to dog constipation. Other factors that cause constipation in dogs include:
• Blockages from eating non-food items
• Less fiber in the diet
• Hair collecting in the stool
• Spinal injury
• Enlarged prostate
What Are the Symptoms of Dog Constipation?
The symptoms of dog constipation vary depending on the cause. If it is due to anal gland disorders, there will be a foul smell from the anus. More obvious symptoms include:
• Going for several days without passing stool
• Passing dry pebble-like stool
• Pain and discomfort when defecating
• Bloody stool
• Mucus in stool
• Struggling to defecate, but nothing comes out
• Loud cries while relieving
• White clumps of dry matter in the rectum
• A bloated stomach
• Fatigue and loss of appetite
While some conditions like anal gland problems are pretty obvious, others like spinal injury may be undetectable for months. To determine if your dog is constipated, you must track the number of days it has not passed stool. If it is more than three days, consider paying a visit to the vet.
Treatment for Dog Constipation
When you discover that your dog is constipated, the first step is to check the current lifestyle and correct any habits that can negatively affect the dog’s digestive system. Some of the ways you can treat dog constipation include:
• Ensuring your dogs drink more water
• Adding probiotics to the diet
• Adding more fiber-rich foods to its diet
• Increasing your pet’s exercise time and intensity by walking more often or playing every day
Other home remedies include:
1. Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin puree is high in fiber and can help regulate bowel function, preventing constipation. It is a good source of Vitamin A, C, and iron. To make pumpkin puree,
• Boil a cut-up pumpkin in water for 20 minutes until soft
• Mash the pumpkin until smooth
• Add water to make it extra soft
• Feed several tablespoons several times a day
Pumpkin is low in calories and 94% water. You can add to dogs’ treats, but avoid pie fillings as they contain spices and lots of sugar.
2. Coconut Oil
Adding small amounts of coconut oil to the dog’s food can significantly improve bowel movement and help prevent constipation.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which help in effective digestion and utilization of nutrients. It can also balance the dog’s digestive system and improve nutrient absorption. Choose virgin coconut oil as it has more nutrients and fewer preservatives.
Essential to note, introduce coconut oil to your dog gradually and watch out for any stomach upset or adverse effects. Start with a quarter teaspoon for smaller dogs and up to 15 ml for bigger dogs, then gradually increase the amount. Observe your dog for two weeks to see how well it responds to the coconut oil treatment.
3. Canned Dog Food
Canned food contains high moisture levels, and it’s softer than home-cooked meals. However, to avoid upsetting the digestive system, mix with regular meals. The dog is also more likely to adapt to the change quickly.
4. Dietary Fiber Supplements
Fiber supplements increase fiber content in the digestive system enabling the dog to pass softer stools. You may want to consult a vet on appropriate choices and the dosage.
5. Laxatives and Stool Softener
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If your dog is still having difficulties, you can try giving it a laxative or stool softener. Make sure to follow the dosage instructions but note that this is a short-term solution.
When to See a Doctor
Dog constipation should be taken seriously and, if left untreated, it can lead to severe complications like obstipation. When you’ve tried all home remedies and your dog still shows no sign of improvement, take it to the vet for a thorough examination or tests. Also, when the dog shows signs of distress, pain, or doesn’t eat, it is time for a veterinary checkup.
A vet can perform an enema to clear the blockage and also prescribe a laxative if needed. An enema is an injection of fluids to the lower bowel via the rectum. An expert should administer it to avoid injury to the dog. Note that constipation can indicate a more severe issue making a vet visit a vital consideration.